The artistic craft of blacksmithing was on display Saturday outside the historic 19th Century residence known as the Blacksmith’s House, which today serves as the office for the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce.
For the second time in less than a year, the Saltfork Craftsmen — an artist-blacksmith association — held its Northeast Regional monthly meeting at the 210 W. Main St. site, where a blacksmith’s house outbuilding was recently added for storage. On Saturday, the viisiting blacksmiths were gathering tools of their trade — which they intend to leave here for future events.
“We like to teach blacksmith skills and share our craft with others, if they’re interested,” Saltfork member Jim Carothers said.
Nearby, Rogers County blacksmith Tracy Cowart was helping a novice craftsman from Sand Springs, Ethan Reese, manufacture a practice tool called an S-hook.
“It’s a good exercise because it requires every process of a blacksmith,” Cowart explained. “It has a twist, a scroll taper and an S-O-R — which stands for “square, octagonal and round.”
Since its founding in 1995, the Saltfork group has forged a commitment to high quality educational opportunities for our members and the public in Oklahoma, Texas, and parts of Kansas and Arkansas. Members regularly provide free, hands-on demonstrations at local museums, town celebrations, county fairs, antique tractor shows, etc.
The Saltfork Craftsmen association includes artists and blacksmiths who are “dedicated to enhancing the skill of hand-forged iron artistry,” according to its website (www.saltforkcraftsmen.org).
Members had hoped for a bigger turnout of townsfolk with curiosity about the art of blacksmithing — but only a few locals came by Saturday.
“We’ll be coming back, and maybe next time it will draw a better crowd,” Carothers said.
Dan Cowart, Tracy’s father, said his leatherworking hobby is what attracted him to blacksmithing.
“I figured if I could learn to make my own tools it would be a lot cheaper,” said the elder Cowart, who retired in 2009 after 24 years as a vo-tech instructor.
Tracy Cowart said most toolmaking requires blacksmith skills.
“Blacksmiths make tools for just about all craftsmen,” he said, adding the clincher: “We even make the tools we use to make the other tools.”